Phew. That was a sun-soaked few hours in the parking lots of your imaginations, team. We sure had fun.
As you’ll recall, we asked for 250 word stories inspired by this excellent first line:
That first line, by the way, comes from Cal Moriarty’s ruddy excellent debut novel, The Killing of Bobbi Lomax, published this month by Faber. Cal is a graduate of both our Writing A Novel and Edit Your Novel courses, so it truly gives us a lovely warm feeling to see her book being published over in the other half of Faber Towers.
Anyway, you guys did what you always do: you delivered all kinds of brilliant, funny, gritty, silly stuff, and made it as hard as ever to select a winner.
But we’re not ones to shirk our duty, and so select a winner we have.
Here we go:
RUNNER-UP: Carina Buckley
Bringing Home The Bacon
Without his badge and gun, by rights Marty shoulda left by the front door, but taking the back stairs was just another bird to flip at the captain. Screw the captain.
Goddam heat. The sidewalk shimmered and shifted under his feet. He squinted across the street at the kosher deli that had sent him on gardening leave. Goddam deli.
Six months ago he’d bust them; illegal imports of Italian salami. Nice racket – who woulda suspected that? Not him, there for his usual pastrami. But people being people, sooner or later they make mistakes. Like he did. Goddam idiot.
The deal had been pretty sweet. They bought his silence with mortadella and pancetta, beautiful prosciutto. He woulda never said he had a price, that he was a down the line cop. But then he had never tasted illegally imported cured meats. Everyone has a price; turned out that was his.
Goddam sandwich. He shoulda kept his mouth shut about how good that place was. Then he shoulda shut up and eaten. Just eaten, instead of gazing at that goddam piece of pork like it was holy. But no. The captain had to come in then, had to take an interest. Be a team player.
And like that he’s gone. The deli too, by the looks; closed sign flat against the dusty glass.
The car exhaled heat when he opened it but the package on the front seat was still cool. Salami; he could smell the chilli. He’d be okay.
WINNER: Chris Longridge
Pig of a day, thought Marty Sinclair as he made his way down the back stairs of the precinct and out into the blazing heat of the lot. The air, thick with gasoline shimmer and the broiled-meat smell of summer, backhanded him; parched weeds brushed against his cuffs. Thinking of the leatherette oven of his car, he decided to walk, and made for the shadows on the eastern side of the street.
Two little girls on the sidewalk shrieked with pretended affront as their brother, or neighbour, or little friend, dropped water balloons from a third floor window. Sinclair felt their uncomplicated delight waft along the street like a cool breeze.
The apartment was four blocks away. His sidearm chafed against his ribs and sweat pricked the corners of his eyes.
He had learned in his first days on the job that unimaginable sorrows lurked behind the plainest of doors, and the years after had only brought novelty to the form those sorrows took. The things people did to people: not for money, nor out of madness, though those were the words most often spoken in the courts. They did them for the simple reason that they could, and that they had found no reason not to.
He stopped and looked up through his fingers. A plane sailed unhurriedly across the sun, its vapour trail a thread cast from the horizon across the unblemished blue void.
Pushed on by the breeze behind, Sinclair kept walking.
Congratulations Carina and Chris! And thanks to everyone who entered. You are all super-talented and make our Fridays as unpiggish as we could ever hope for.
We’re taking a little break from QuickFic next week – because people in the office will insist on going off on holiday – but we’ll be back in June. Same time, same place. NEW PROMPT.